In the late 1800's, Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, falls for Sophie Chotek, a Czech countess. He's already a problem to the Crown because of his political ideas; this... See full summary »
In the late 1800's, Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, falls for Sophie Chotek, a Czech countess. He's already a problem to the Crown because of his political ideas; this love affair with someone not of royal blood breeches protocol. The Crown allows the union only after the couple agrees to a morganatic marriage. The emperor further neutralizes Franz by making him inspector general of the army, sending him afield for months at a time. In June of 1914, fearing for his safety, Sophie seeks permission to accompany Franz to Sarajevo; protocol dictates that no army troops attend Franz while she is present. An assassin strikes. Their deaths spark World War I. Written by
While highly romanticized, Ophul's treatment of the subject is not mistaken. He does make Archduke Franz Ferdinand more attractive than in life, in which he was usually gruff rather than charming. Yet his hopes for the Austro-Hungarian Empire were promising, as they appear in the film, and he did enjoy the support and friendship of German Kaiser Wilhelm II. While Emperor Franz Josef had a certain presence, and in his old age and after the tragedies of Mayerling and the assassination in 1898 of his erratic but lovely wife, Empress Elisabeth, became endeared to his subjects, he was none the less trapped in court etiquette. He had no ideas about improving and making his empire more viable, but simply persisted in old ways and habits. The film makes him somewhat more sympathetic to Franz Ferdinand than he likely was. Franz Ferdinand adored the Countess Chotek and his family, and was understandably distressed at his treatment by the Emperor and Court. Sadly the last scene seems hasty and the car not the same as seen in the photos from Sarajevo in 1914.
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